CHITRAL: Ibex conservation across Chitral valley is under threat due to the wildlife department’s failure to enlist the support of the local community for it, say experts.
According to them, the Himalayan ibex has large presence in 17 of Chitral’s 35 sub-valleys.
As no survey has been conducted by the department in recent times, the ibex population in the region is estimated to be around 5,000.
Karimabad, Arkari, Golen, Sheshi Koh, Rumbur, Oveer, Terich, Torkhow, Yarkhun, Broghil, Laspur and Mastuj sub-valleys have pastures grazed by the wildgoats.
He said the local community was engaged in the Chitral Gol National Park in 1984 when the Kashmiri markhor were on the verge of extinction with 200 heads but the number jumped to 6,000 over the years due to the engagement of VCCs.
The conservationist said the VCC model had been introduced in the national parks during the last three decades but some conservancies by the wildlife department didn’t bother to extend it to the pastures with ibex population in the far-flung areas of Chitral.
He said the trophy hunting of wild goats was organised in the conservancies whose 80 per cent permit fee went to the VCCs, which spent it for collective development as per own requirements for which they were empowered.
“The customary approach of the wildlife department to contain the poaching of wild goats has badly failed due to flawed system and shortage of field staff,” he said.
Mr Afzal said Terich valley had more than five prominent hunting pastures but there was only one watcher for their supervision, which was virtually impossible.
He said poaching had increased over the years as the people were in possession of more sophisticated firearms than before and the advent of financial prosperity also lured them to support hunting.
“If the participation of villagers is ensured by forming VCCs at village level and trophy hunting is organised, the ibex population will be saved from poachers. The ibex conservation will also help in poverty alleviation,” he said.